Update: Why Woodland Cove 40B Project Matters to Onset Rate Payers

By OnsetTogether | May 08, 2018
Source: Wareham Fire District Wareham and Onset Fire District Boundaries

After attending the ZBA meeting, it's clear that the NIMBYs have little grasp of the scope of the law. You can learn more here.  Only the Housing Authority was in attendance, not water, sewer or schools. We heard about not wanting to have to patrol the private beach at Indian Heights, and other first-world problems. Chapter 40B, also known as the Comprehensive Permit Law, was enacted in 1969 to help expand the number of communities and neighborhoods where households with low and moderate incomes could secure a safe and affordable home. The law helps reduce barriers to production created by local approval processes, local zoning, and other restrictions. In 2010, 58% of voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly supported keeping Chapter 40B as a tool for providing affordable homes for people of all ages. It was created in such a way that NIMBYs can't block all housing proposals. It does not account for school system capacity, schools should be able to and must educate any child who arrives at their door.  This is a good opportunity for WPS to be doing some serious future planning. Too bad they backed down on their budget.

We heard that the sewer system has capacity and that the developer is willing to work toward adequate piping. No ZBA member would stick their neck out on an acceptable number of units. Mr. Teitelbaum,  representing the BOS, said 90. To get the tax benefits Dakota needs 106. So there is a number between 106 and 170.

The consultant working with the ZBA is terrific, and very good at bringing the topic back to what is allowable.  Atty Haverty was a moderator at this conference, I do not know if anyone from Wareham attended although I promoted it. The ZBA cannot commission its own studies. They cannot disapprove the comprehensive permit because of seasonal use of roads. They cannot use poor schools as an excuse. This process shines tremendous light on the shortcomings of the town over the past many years, and gives an opportunity for improvement.  The Housing Production Plan needs to be brought to the fore and every aspect actively addressed. It is in no way just about mobile homes.

As for Onset Water, there is an opportunity here for the developer to contribute a decent amount toward upgrading wells, generators, and more. Or, we could stand with our arms folded saying we will not comply with the permit issued by Wareham. Come to the meeting May 21 and have your say.


The proposed project, slated for 3102 Cranberry Highway (Starlight Motel location) is located within the boundary of the Onset Fire and Water District. This entity is not associated with the Town of Wareham but provides fire services (except EMS) and water to the ratepayers, both residential and commercial. The 40B designation is being sought to alleviate the developer, Dakota Partners, Inc., from density, zoning, conservation and other restrictions as allowed by state law. That's the shortened synopsis.

Why does it matter to Onset? The Water Commission chairman has stated that the Onset Water District, which was joined with the previously independent Onset Fire District, will not comply with a comprehensive building permit should the Town of Wareham Zoning Board of Appeals grant Dakota this permit. This has set up a legal battle between the OFWD, the Town of Wareham, and Dakota Partners, Inc.. The legal bill for this will be paid by all of the taxpayers throughout Wareham, and twice by the Wareham residents who also pay the OFWD fee.

The Water Commission sent a list of questions and requirements to the Board of Selectmen, who seemingly passed it along to Dakota. Responses are forthcoming, it seems. There are legitimate reasons for these inquiries, however, were the developer to satisfy the requests, it is unclear whether OFWD would then withdraw its objections.

The OFWD has level-funded the legal budget for the coming fiscal year at $ 60,000.00, which presumably does not include this battle, for which there is no precedent.

Perhaps Dakota will simply go away, not having considered that the Town of Wareham does not provide any fire nor water service anywhere in the town. Please attend the ZBA meeting at 6:30 PM tomorrow May 9, and help Dakota hear that we aren't interested in them. There are myriad other reasons to deny the comprehensive permit. Details may be seen on the Planning Board website, http://www.wareham.ma.us/planning-department-and-zoning-board-appeals/urgent-alerts/woodland-cove-apartments-comprehensive-0 Also, attend the OFWD Annual Meeting on May 21 to vote on the budget for FY2019.


Comments (14)
Posted by: OnsetTogether | May 08, 2018 12:42

It would be great if the Wareham Sewer, School, EMS, Housing Authority and other affected departments showed up at the ZBA as well.

Posted by: cranky pants | May 08, 2018 14:47

We may as well get real warm to this idea because it's coming and there really isn't anything we can do to stop it. Couple that to the fact that entire neighborhoods are being built without any 40B integration we will never meet the magical 10 percent. Sell now while the market is high.

Posted by: bruce gannon | May 10, 2018 12:51

please cranky be the first

Posted by: cranky pants | May 10, 2018 12:55

Don't worry, I'll still comment on your beautiful town.

Posted by: OnsetChampion | May 11, 2018 09:23

Just my opinion,  all Woodland Cove developers have to do to get permission from Onset Fire/Water District is to purchase a new fire truck, or such, and then all will be well.

Yes, I have heard credible rumors about this.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | May 11, 2018 10:00

Onset, that is called bribery and totally illegal. LOL!! This would effect all of Wareham not just the village of Onset.

Posted by: Steve Holmes | May 11, 2018 10:56

Champ I believe I mentioned that option in another thread. and depending on the fight that is put up and the cost of that fight to the developer the options go down. Developers as part of the give and take to come to Town often "donate" (there is another legal term for this)items to the Town, nothing illegal about it. When Wal-Mart came the Town got a new ambulance and a few other things, we should have got more but the TA at the time was asleep at the switch, and we got these concessions at the last minute. When AD Makepeace was in the approval process for their latest project, there was a major investment made to the Town for the sewer station in that area. It is the same sewer station Wal-Mart was to use, and if you remember there was a legal battle because they felt Wal-Mart should also chip in for that since they were going to use it. I believe without going back and looking they did finally chip in. So as I mentioned I that other thread, this project is coming to Wareham unless a miracle happens and there is a new way to block them, given their 40B status. So rather than fight them, maybe looking at a firetruck, (or a major contribution to one) or some other safety vehicle may not be a bad idea. If they could pull this off it would at least save the District payers some money in the long run.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | May 11, 2018 11:44

Oh, so lets just call it what it is. Bribery where we just look the other way. Why should Onset get the fire truck? The entire town has to pay for this fiasco. Overloaded schools will be the biggest concern.

Posted by: Onset_mom | May 11, 2018 15:29

maybe all the families will decide that they want to do school choice because of the state of the schools and then we won't have to worry about extra students or extra money :)

Posted by: OnsetTogether | May 11, 2018 22:14

Peaches I don’t support (such cheap) bribery (a minimum of a whole new well and two generators) but Onset FD must respond to the 4 story buildings, not WFD, and Onset Water must supply all of these new, paying customers.

Posted by: cranky pants | May 12, 2018 08:53

Don't worry about the overloaded schools, they've got plans for that too.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | May 12, 2018 14:36

Onsettogether, Wareham has to educate the which I promise you will cost far more.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | May 12, 2018 16:12

Also, lets not forget that most fires require mutual aid. Who do you suppose will be called for that?

Posted by: OnsetTogether | May 13, 2018 08:37

Most OFD calls are not to fires (fact), and while some fires require mutual aid WFD has the Big Truck. School funding is not a reason to deny the permit under 40B.

  • School funding is so whacked as it is that Districts can’t plan well. Cleon Turner said it best to D-Y: schools should plan as if there is no such thing as state aid, set out their optimal program, and tax themselves appropriately to make it happen. Any state aid is a bonus. Regardless of where or how many new students arrive we must educate them, always hanging by a shoestring is not planning. Closing Minot years before a new school would open is foolish.
  • OWD has not disclosed how much they stand to make. They voted to have commercial and residential rates remain the same. Short sighted? They have NO capital fund! Woodland Cove could pay for much needed infrastructure.

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